Friday, November 30, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Juror #74

After being a registered voter in Massachusetts for nearly 25 years, I finally got called to Jury Duty.  It was nothing like my experience in Beverly Hills.  I had to wake up earlier than I do for work (whatever).  There is much sitting and waiting.  After two hours they called numbers 1 - 104 as the pool for jurors on an expected two-week criminal case.  Certainly they wouldn't get to #74.  We sat in the courtroom and they called each number and you had the opportunity to go up and give the judge your reason(s) you should be excused.  When they called my number I said "No" (I didn't think a busy full-time job, impending window replacement, or upcoming vacation would be good enough reasons).  And certainly they wouldn't get to #74.  Sixteen prospective jurors filled the fancy seats and the rest of us went to the courtroom across the hall.  When they weeded through the whole group they had everyone return to the courtroom.  Then they started excusing people.  And replacing them in the fancy chairs.  Certainly they wouldn't get to #74.  They were in the 50's.  I started to get nervous.  Then they called #74 to sit in seat #10.  I started to sweat.  I was in the hot seat for about ten minutes before they excused me.  Did I look too conservative?  Was it because I never took my coat off?  All I can say is I've never been so happy to go to work!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Typewriter intrigue

There was a lot of interest in my typewriters last night (I have ten in my apartment).  All three kids wanted to use them and Maren typed me a nice letter.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday helpers

These delightful kids (and their nice parents) came over tonight for dinner and helped me decorate my Christmas tree.

It's family photo time of year

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Harrells: my favorites

Harrell sneak peek

Today's family pictures were the first they've done since their engagement photos!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving memory

The house was filled with friends of all ages enjoying the Thanksgiving meal preparation and the festivities of the day.  One little three year old boy repeatedly returned to the appetizer table grabbing olives and pickles and carrots and celery (double dipping of course).  In the back of my head I thought, this isn't really three year old food.  The meal was blessed and all 25 or so of us began eating when the little boy started barfing and filled his plate with vomit.  I yelled out, "HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Relief Society is...

...helping with hurricane clean up in Queens.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dinner and debrief

We stopped at a Shake Shack in Connecticut on the way home for burgers and fries and shakes, of course.

Hurricane Sandy clean up

We met this morning at 5:00am and drove to Queens to help out with the hurricane clean up.  On the way down I decided that I was going to introduce myself to people and try to be as helpful as possible.  A bunch of carpools of people from our Stake (Cambridge Massachusetts Stake) met in a Kohl's parking lot to get our Helping Hands vests and assignments.  They asked one group to go on a "special assignment", we volunteered (there were 7 of us in a mini van) and followed Elder Finger and Elder Verhagen to Island Park.  The first person we went to help was Glenn.  He needed help cleaning out his garage and his crawl space.  Glenn was a collector -- he had lots of NASCAR toy cars (still in their original packaging) and some newspapers.  His garage was pretty full with a car he was working on, tools, toys, bikes, Christmas decorations, and lots of other usual garage things -- and a refrigerator on its back that had food in it and hadn't been opened since the power had gone off (over two weeks ago).  We started working immediately; carrying things out, bagging things up and moving things out onto the sidewalk, dumping water out of rubbermaid bins that were filled with things (clothes, toys, balls, etc.).  Glenn had three sons and he drove one to a sports practice and the other two worked right along side us.  Glenn really hoped the newspapers were salvageable so we lined them along his bushes, wall and lawn.  Lots of things had to be thrown away so we stacked things up near the curb (garbage trucks pick things up every day).  I took a quick break to get something out of the van down the street and saw a neighbor and introduced myself ("I'm Ellen from Boston") and Ed and I started a conversation -- which began with him thanking us for all our help since the storm.  He mentioned that his neighbor across the street needed help in her house.  I went back and told the Elders and asked if we could help her too.  We continued to help Glenn and then after lunch went over to Betty's house.  Betty's daughter Amanda was there and a few of us helped her carry some items to the attic.  After that we started working on the demolition in Betty's home that she had moved back into in August after it was rebuilt from Hurricane Irene damage (last year).  And in May, Betty had surgery for a brain tumor.  Betty wasn't there today, she was out of state visiting her ill father.  I think the sweetest part of the day was when Amanda said she texted her mom, "We have help!"  We tore up her hard wood floor, took all the flooring to the curb, ripped up all the black paper under the flooring and removed nails.  Her new kitchen had to be demolished -- brand new appliances moved to the patio, cupboards and counters removed, and flooring taken up.  There was linoleum and tile that had to be removed and molding around doorways.  And wallboard up to four feet (where the water line was from the storm) all through the house was smashed and removed.  Ed's son is on the lacrosse team at the Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point and he and his teammates all showed up to help out with Betty's house.  It was the Mormons and the Merchant Marines doing demolition!  The pile of wood and stuff just got bigger and bigger on the curb.  Amanda almost didn't go to her mom's house today because she was discouraged but was so glad she did and was so thankful to have help.  Today was a great day.  It was good to work with friends (Susan, Ben, Sara, Lisa, Judy and Kristine) and to share this experience.  Elder Finger and Elder Verhagen were amazing -- they are true examples of Christ like love and service and they are hard workers and good at managing people and projects.  I was impressed with them.  I'm hoping to go back this Saturday.

My helping hands

Today was amazing.  We worked in Island Park, NY.  I have a few stories to share and lots of photos but I'm exhausted.

Last night before I went to bed I read Mosiah 2:17 -- And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.